Shower pan losses are common occurrences. For a Florida condominium owner who has a shower pan loss within their condominium, the homeowner’s policy usually covers the damages caused by the water but does not pay to repair the damaged or broken shower pan.1 However, what happens when the unit upstairs experiences a shower pan link that impacts your unit?

The starting point of dissecting the anatomy of a water leaks begins at examining the cause of the leak. There is a common misconception that, when water emanates from a condominium unit, that unit is automatically responsible for the damages to that unit, the common elements, and to other units. A unit owner is only responsible for damage to someone else’s property if the damage was caused by that owner’s carelessness (negligence), or by their intentional act.2 For example, if a unit owner leaves their bathtub running and it overflows, causing a flood – that unit owner will be legally responsible for the damage caused to the other units. The Florida Condominium Act, at Section 718.111(11), provides that:

The condominium association must insure the condominium property as originally installed by the developer, minus certain delineated items.

The association is responsible for everything except the following, for which the unit owner is responsible: all personal property within the unit or limited common elements, and floor, wall, and ceiling coverings, electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, water filters, built-in cabinets and countertops, and window treatments, including curtains, drapes, blinds, hardware, and similar window treatment components, or replacements of any of the foregoing which are located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit.

Under an all-risk policy, a sudden and accidental event that is not listed as an exclusion is defined as an “insured peril.” This means, in a condo or co-op for example, if a pipe breaks causing water damage, the resulting damage from the water is usually the responsibility of the association. Leaks in a shower-pan also fall into the same category.

In the event of a shower pan leak causing water damage, the association would be responsible for repairing the drywall and ceilings. The unit owners are responsible for their own personal property, including floor coverings, cabinets, and furniture. That is why it is monumentally important that every unit owner carries their own insurance to ensure that they will be covered in an event of a loss.

It is likewise important that individual unit owners also purchase their own property insurance liability coverage. Depending upon Association By-Laws, water that escapes one unit and damages another unit or multiple units can result in massive potential liability and multiple lawsuits. While many think of personal injury as being a major concern, what happens if water escaping your unit causes millions of dollars in damage to adjoining units? This is often overlooked by many and raises the need to have significant property liability damage limits—often exceeding personal injury limits.

Thought of the day:

If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
2 Florida Statute 718.111(11)(j)